Sunday, July 19, 2020

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: Tuesday, May 2, 2056

While still in 2053, the group took the AOC to Australia, where they encountered another person from an old timeline. Allen Tupper worked for a dark version of Horace Reaver, and did not enjoy a very happy life. It would seem Jupiter intended for him to stay in The Parallel, because he did not provide a transition window back to the main sequence. They decided to let him live on the ship while they jumped to the future, but this was a miscalculation, because the ship jumped right with them, bringing Allen along. Someone was waiting for them just outside which illuminated Jupiter’s logic, and gave further evidence that he was not as bad as he wanted others to believe.
Mateo hopped over, and gave Richard a bear hug. They didn’t know each other for too terribly long, but they weren’t simple passing acquaintances either. This was the Richard Parker, of the Life of Pi and Gulliver’s Travels tribulations.
“How did I get here?” Richard asked.
“What’s the last thing you remember?” Mateo asked him.
“We were pushing the Rogue into the magic mirror. Reaver was helping us. But I got pulled through too. Then I saw a bright light, thought I was gonna die, but opened my eyes here. Well, it wasn’t exactly here. I was still on Easter Island, but it’s very different now. Some cops showed up, and brought me here to Australia.”
Mateo smiled, and stepped to the side. “I believe you’re here for him.” He gestured towards his soulmate. “Richard Parker, this is Allen Tupper. You’re meant to be together in every timeline.”
They approached each other cautiously, and shook hands. While Mateo knew these two were destined for each other, that didn’t mean something magical would spark between them, and form an unbreakable bond instantaneously. Developing a relationship would take time, assuming they even chose to try. This was not how normal people met each other, and that might be enough to prevent things from progressing. That was sad, but at least Richard survived the fateful day that Gilbert pulled him to his death. The question now was what they were going to do with their second chance.
Leona stepped forward, and looked at her cuff. “A transition window is coming from Bend, Oregon. I don’t know if it’s ingress, or egress, or if they’re two-way, or what. If you want to try to get back to the main sequence, that’s your first chance. There may be a second. I don’t know. I don’t even know which timeline you’ll end up in. We just don’t have enough information.”
Richard nodded, and politely asked, “what information do you have? The people here haven’t told me much, like it was all a big secret. This looks like my world, but it’s clearly not.”
“Yes, it does,” J.B. agreed. “If it’s as God-Ramses said, and the whole galaxy has been conquered, why does this look so much like the mid-twenty-first century in a regular timeline?”
“Oh, that’s right,” Leona said, “you weren’t there for that conversation. Holly Blue and I did manage to get someone here to talk. They have technology in this reality that’s more advanced than we’ve ever seen, but Earth is different. It’s like a sanctuary for people who want to live semi-normally. They’re still immortal, but they don’t teleport, and they don’t extract all of their energy from the sun with a Dyson swarm. They run on basic fusion reactors, and lead relatively simple lives. They don’t hate technology; they just don’t need it. This is not the only world like that, but it’s the world we’re gonna stay on for awhile, because the transitions will be letting out here until people in the main sequence start their own interstellar colonization process.”
“The point is,” Holly Blue jumped in, “Richard and Allen, you can either stay in this reality, or risk trying to go back. Based on what we know of your personal histories, there should be no reason you have to go back. You have both already done everything we know you do there. It just depends on what you want.”
“Is Horace Reaver in this reality?” Allen questioned.
“He may come through a later transition,” Leona answered, “but it will have to be a nice version of him. The one you know—the one who caused so much grief—died last year in an old timeline. There is no version of him living in the Parallel, however. There are no duplicates here. History is too wildly different to let anyone you know be born again.”
Sanaa wanted to put in her two cents, “you will have to start brand new lives. All of your financial debt has been wiped clean, and you won’t have to help your proverbial neighbor move, but you’ll also never find out how your favorite TV series ends, or see your families again.”
Richard and Allen looked at each other with the same unfamiliarity.
“To add more,” Sanaa continued, “it’s like Holly Blue said. History in the main sequence timelines thinks you’re done. Richard, you died, and Allen, you just sort...faded away into obscurity. I’m thinking now that’s not because you weren’t important, but because you came here. I can’t tell you what to do, but I’m pretty sure you’re supposed to stay here.”
“I don’t have any more family,” Allen said.
“I’m dead,” Richard gave his own answer in the same tone.
“You people are going to the future, though?” Allen asked.
“We have to,” Mateo replied. “You don’t. Just don’t be on this ship when midnight central hits, and you’ll be left behind.”
“If we do that,” Richard began, “if we stay here, when would our next chance to change our minds be. Theoretically.”
Mateo looked to Leona, who responded with, “twenty-two years. It’s our biggest jump yet, and I believe our maximum. I have not yet done all the math.”
Richard and Allen both nodded.
“I might as well stay.”
“Yeah, same.”
“All right.” Holly Blue clapped her hands. “We have to get to Bend. Do you want to come with, or stay in Australia, or go somewhere else. Literally anywhere in the galaxy is accessible.”
“Here’s fine for me,” Allen decided.
“Same,” Richard agreed.
“Good luck, boys,” Leona said.
Mateo gave his friend one last hug, and then boarded the AOC, never to see him again. Hopefully things would be better here.
“Has anyone ever been here before?” J.B. asked. “Who might be coming through the window?”
“I don’t know who would be doing it in 2056,” Holly Blue started to say, “but this was where my son trained with Darko.”
“Why did he come to Bend from Kansas City?” Mateo asked. “My once-brother was a time traveler, who could have met you anywhere.”
“Yes,” Holly blue concurred, “but Darko felt his students would be better off learning together, rather than one-on-one, and it saved him time. Bozhena and her family didn’t know anything about time travel back then, so we jumped here for his classes. Again, that was back at the start of the 21st century. That’s the only connection I know of. Perhaps some random Horvatinčic descendant we don’t know is coming, or someone else entirely.”
Images from the main sequence began to flicker around them. Mateo lifted his cuff to get a better look at it through the augmented reality feature. “Somehow I doubt that’s the case. Nothing is random when it comes to Jupiter Fury.”
The flickering stopped, leaving a young girl standing before them, holding a boomerang. How Australian of her. She was frightened of them, but not crying.
“Hey,” Sanaa said, approaching the girl slowly. “It’s okay. We’re not gonna hurt you.”
“Where am I?” the girl asked.
“Have you ever heard of time travel before?”
“Like Minutemen?”
Mateo perked up. “That’s a kids movie. I think I saw it, even though I was kind of old. Yes, like that. What year is it?”
“It should be 2008.
“That’s weird,” Leona said. “She should have come from 2056. What’s the last thing you remember?”
“I followed my teacher, even though he told me not to. I can never find him when he’s not training us. I can’t ever find Declan either. I just wanted to know where they went every day. They separated, so I chose to follow Mr. Matic. I saw him pick up this boomerang, and then he disappeared.”
“Hmm.” This was obviously Young!Bozhena, but where was Darko? “You saw him disappear in front of you, but you weren’t touching him?” Holly Blue asked her.
“No,” Bozhena said. “He was, like, a swimming pool away.”
What the hell? “Then you picked up the boomerang, and it brought you here?” Leona continued the interview.
“Yeah.” Bozhena turned it over in her hands. “It’s some sort of time device.” That was not how it worked. The object itself could not control time. Darko just used it to slide up and down its history. This should not have worked. At all.
“Where was your teacher when you jumped to the future?”
Bozhena shrugged. “I dunno. I looked around for a few minutes. Then I ended up here. How do I go back home?”
Mateo shook his head. “If Darko’s gone, there’s no telling where he went. The other side of the window could be his home, or just a waypoint. He may never return. How do we get her back to the main sequence in 2008?”
“Aren’t these people time travelers?” J.B. offered.
“Backwards travel is illegal,” Sanaa reminded him.
“They should be able to make an exception for us,” J.B. figured.
“That would be nice,” Sanaa agreed. “Can your ship do it?”
“No,” Leona replied. “It’s not built for that either. It can’t even jump to the stars as fast as these people can. It still takes days to get anywhere.”
Mateo looked at his cuff. “I don’t see a window coming up.”
“There has to be a way to get her back,” Holly Blue pointed out. “Bozhena Horvatinčic goes on to have a very adventurous life. She is extremely vital to the timeline; more than most people could hope to achieve. And we have to make sure she gets back to where she belongs. We can’t just throw her in a window, and hope someone on the other side finds her.”
“Nobody’s throwing me through a window,” Bozhena said precociously.
“It’s just a metaphor,” Holly Blue clarified. “It’s what we call the portals we use to travel through time.” That wasn’t entirely the truth, but it wasn’t totally wrong either, and it was good enough as an explanation.
“I may have a solution,” Leona said, “but you’re not gonna like it.”
“Tell me,” Holly Blue demanded.
“Sanaa, could you please stay out here with Bozhena?”
“Gladly,” Sanaa said. She smiled at Bozhena. “What do kids your age like to do, Bo? Do you still play peek-a-boo?”
“How do you people know my name?”
The rest of the group climbed back into the AOC. Leona was adamant that they close the outer hatch behind them, as well as the airlock, and then climb all the way down to the engineering level, closing all hatches between them and the outside.
“I think I know what this is,” Holly Blue determined because of all those hatches. “You’re gonna try to get someone’s Cassidy cuffs off, but you don’t want them flying off and attaching themselves to poor Young!Slipstream’s wrists.”
“Not just anyone,” Leona revealed. “She needs a time traveler, and only one of us here is capable of that.”
“I would have to invent something,” Holly Blue argued. “It doesn’t matter a whole lot that I’ve already done it before. I kind of have to start from scratch every time. Recall that I’m not a real scientist.”
“Again, you’re the only one who can do it. When you removed your son’s cuffs, we discovered that they just wrapped themselves around someone new in response.” Leona lifted both her arms, and shook them around. “If I’m the one who tries to remove them, then it doesn’t really matter, does it?”
“Maybe they’ll just reattach themselves to me,” Holly Blue guessed. “I would be the only choice, and perhaps Jupiter programmed them to never be without a host.”
“That’s not what happened when Ramses lost his,” Mateo reminded her. Sanaa had to pick them up on purpose. I think they can just be paperweights.”
Holly Blue wasn’t going to stop arguing. “How do we even know there’s going to be a transition window in 2008?”
“We don’t,” Leona said as she was reaching into her bag. “It’s irrelevant if you’re a time traveler, though.” She lifted the HG Goggles out of her bag. “This can help you find one. I have some ideas where you could look; ones that we didn’t use.”
Holly Blue didn’t want to agree to this plan, but she never wanted to be part of this pattern either, so they finally convinced her to stay behind, and get little Bozhena back to where she should be. She even thought she could erase her memories of the day, because she wasn’t destined to learn about this stuff until she was older. They said their goodbyes, and went their separate ways. The group would never know how well it went, or even if the plan worked at all. They would just have to have faith.

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